Northwestern Mutual World Challenge 2013 Leaderboard: Day 1 Scores and Analysis

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2013

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Zach Johnson hits his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club on December 5, 2013 in Thousand Oaks, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Zach Johnson is your leader after one round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.

The former Masters winner shot a five-under 67 to earn a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, per the PGA Tour.

After what was an unimpressive front nine, Johnson exploded on the back nine with five birdies over a stretch of seven holes. The highlight of that great run was a long putt on 14 to earn the birdie.

A bogey on 18 didn't put a damper on what was an otherwise great day for Johnson. He was the most consistent golfer on the course, and as that putt on 14 demonstrated, he nailed the big shots when necessary.

Here's a look at the top half of the leaderboard, courtesy of

1Zach Johnson-5
2Matt Kuchar-4
T3Hunter Mahan-2
T3Bubba Watson-2
5Tiger Woods-1
T6Graeme McDowellE
T6Jim FurykE
T8Rory McIlroy+1
T8Bill Haas+1
T8Webb Simpson+1


Hanging around Johnson for most of the day was Kuchar. Much like Johnson, Kuchar was up and down in the first round.

After posting a one-under on the front nine, he made his move on the back nine.

Even if Kuchar doesn't win, he'll likely have the shot of the tournament. His approach on 11 landed just short of the green and would bounce to within inches of the hole, setting up an easy putt for eagle.

For much of the round, Bubba Watson looked as if he'd finish at least in a tie with Kuchar, or possibly overtake Johnson for the lead. However, the 2012 Masters champion wilted on the final stretch, bogeying 17 and 18 to finish with a two-under 70.

Lurking a little further down the leaderboard is Tiger Woods, who shot a 71. Any time he's within a couple of shots of the lead, you wonder if the Tiger of old will show up and stampede the competition in the final two rounds.

If Thursday is any indication, though, Woods won't have what it takes to be the last man standing. While he struck the ball very well, time and again, his putting would let him down. As Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker pointed out, a par on 18 illustrated how the round went for Woods.

One of the bigger disappointments on Friday was Rory McIlroy. Although he didn't play poorly, the 24-year-old was never able to get into a groove. It didn't help that he bogeyed Nos. 4, 6 and 7 on the front nine.

McIlroy would finish at one over for the round.

Even though it's only the first round, the former major champion has put himself at a major disadvantage. Four strokes presents a sizable gap. It's not impossible for McIlroy to claw his way to the top of the leaderboard, but don't expect it to happen.

It will be interesting to see if it's a two-man battle between Johnson and Kuchar as the tournament progresses, or if somebody else will turn a strong round into a run at the title.